A former Cuban exile anti-Castro militant told a conference audience Sept. 26 in a blockbuster revelation that he saw accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald with their mutual CIA handler six weeks before the killing and there would have been no anti-Castro movement in Cuba without the CIA funding.
Antonio Veciana, the acknowledged leader of the Alpha 66 assassination squad of Cuban exiles in the early 1960s, made the statements in a dignified but emotion-laden manner at this year’s major conference analyzing the Warren Commission report on murder of President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas. Alpha 66 is alleged to have tried to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro on two occasions, but Veciana, a onetime certified public accountant for a wealthy Cuban in the years before the revolution, has never been been charged with an attempt.
Separately, the general counsel of the last major government investigation into the killing issued a statement saying the CIA had deceived him and the rest of the public during the late 1970s inquiry into the validity of the Warren report. Former House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) General Counsel G. Robert Blakey issued the statement during the ongoing conference Sept. 26-28 organized at the Bethesda Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD by the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC).
Veciana said he is convinced the CIA organized the president’s murder and that he saw Oswald meeting with a CIA official in Dallas because Veciana arrived at his meeting fifteen minutes too early. Veciana said he believes Oswald was a CIA operative whom the agency decided to blame for a killing it organized in a complex plot.
Veciana said his CIA handler was the late David Atlee Phillips, shown in a file photo at right. Phillips was a high-ranking CIA official who used the cover named “Maurice Bishop” during his many meetings with Veciana. Earlier this year, Veciana confirmed to researcher Marie Fonzi, widow of his friend the author Gaeton Fonzi, that “Bishop” was “Phillips.” But Veciana has never previously answered questions in a public forum.
The CIA placed Phillips in charge of the CIA’s Cuba operations after the newly created agency recruited him from newspaper work in 1950s. According to biographers, Phillips, a former actor born in Texas, used hundreds of aliases in his CIA work. After retirement from the CIA Phillips organized thousands of fellow intelligence officers into the politically influential Association of Former Intelligence Officers. The group quietly helped support the political career of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush and Bush allies, among other endeavors.
Veciana, 85, spoke through a translator and with a son by his side. He said he was trained as a CPA and admired “Bishop” and the CIA deeply for many years.
Now, however, he said he wanted to set the record straight because he has come to admire also Kennedy, whom and he and Phillips once regarded as a “traitor” for allowing communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro to remain in power.
Former Top JFK Investigator Rebukes CIA For Cover-up
Blakey, shown in a file photo from his longtime work as a professor of law at Notre Dame University, spoke Sept. 27 to reiterate his statement read the previous day, and answer questions. His committee issued a report in 1979 on behalf of the House scrutinizing the original 1964 Warren report.
The two admissions were part of an explosive agenda for the conference, which I helped open with an address on why the 50th anniversary of the Warren report is a unique, historic opportunity to solve the nation’s most important murder, one whose after-effects continue to the present with the unchecked power of the CIA as a secret government.
I amplified on that theme on Sept. 27 in an afternoon panel “Why Won’t the Media Cover the Story?”
The remarks drew from my recent book research for Presidential Puppetry: Obama Romney and Their Masters, which documents on the record how all recent presidents, including Barack Obama, were involved with CIA or FBI covert information-gathering operations before they entered politics.
These kinds of under-reported relationships foster the ascendancy of the nation’s leaders — including in business, politics, academics and the media — in ways unknown to the general public. The methods? For those in the media and academia, it’s by facilitating book contracts, university posts, television appearances and consultancies for those with pro-Warren themes and thwarting others seeking to offer contrary evidence, such as Oswald’s role as a CIA and FBI under-cover operative.
As previously reported here and elsewhere, the CIA used Operation Mockingbird to control messaging at major news organizations in the 1950s and 1960s. Also, the CIA generated a now-declassified memo in April 1967 instructing its operatives to use major newspapers and broadcast outlets to describe critics of the Warren Commission as “conspiracy theorists” unfit for belief or employment.
The conference panel agreed for the most part that ownership and top management of mainstream news organizations have thwarted for the most part meaningful coverage of vital discrepancies in the Warren report. To do so would call into question a half century of slanted and biased government statements and reporting. However, one panelist said Warren report critics need to do a far better job in reaching out in a professional manner to journalists and their outlets.
C-SPAN covered the conference’s opening, but reportedly removed it from view and has not yet announced its cablecast schedule.
Among the conference highlights, a team of professional actors provided a dramatic reading Sept. 27 of a long-secret transcript of a Commission meeting in January 1964 in which commissioners secretly addressed the threat that two newspaper reporters posed. According to Texas law enforcement officials, the reporters had discovered that the supposed “lone nut” Oswald was actually an FBI paid asset from the time he returned to the United States following his sojourn in the Soviet Union through the time of the JFK assassination.
At the conference also, Oswald’s friends Buell Wesley Frazier and Dr. Ernst Titovets said they never believed their friend could be guilty of murder, and regarded him as a “patsy” — as Oswald claimed before he was murdered by Jack Ruby at a Dallas police station two days after the assassination.
Frazier made his first public appearance to describe his experiences on the day of the assassination. He said that he drove his fellow worker Oswald to work at the Texas Book Depository on the fateful day of the assassination. Frazier said a package Oswald carried was too small to contain a rifle, as the Warren Commission claimed. Titovets, a professor of medicine in his native Belarus, has published a new edition of his 2010 memoir: Oswald: Russian Episode.
In other conference news, professor author and former intelligence officer Dr. John Newman traced more than a dozen of the Phillips identities to show his work was so secret that even his internal memos at the CIA, now declassified in part, show that he was trying to fool fellow employees about his activities.
Also, AARC President James Lesar called for an end of obstruction by the National Archives in complying with the provisions of a 1992 law passed unanimously by Congress to make all available records public regarding the JFK murder. Lesar, an attorney fighting freedom of information battles, has argued that the CIA exercises too much influence over the Archives and other Washington officials on the issue.